Less Than a Hit


Neal and Peter had to stop at the judicial building for a warrant. There were protesters outside. Neal wasn't sure what mutant case was being decided –Peter had kept him in the FBI building for days- but it looked like it could get ugly.

Peter snagged Neal's arm and led him through security and into the judge's chambers. He quickly concluded business and led the way back to the car. "What do you think?" Peter asked him, nodding at the shouting protesters on both sides of the equation.

"It'd be a great day to be a pickpocket." Neal could spot two working the crowds from the front passenger's seat. "Lots of bumping and congestion and a distraction already available, not to mention a ready target if the mark figures out they lost their wallet. All those enemies right across the road."

Peter probably saw the same two light-fingered thieves slipping through the Human First side. "Which side would you work?"

"Oh, the humans," Neal said blithely. "You can never know a mutant's power and most of them are so poor because they can't get a job that they aren't worth the effort."

Peter huffed, but he didn't disagree. He drove in silence for a while. Something sparked his attention, it might have been the tea house they just passed or the gallery up ahead. Or the combination reminded him of his wife's project. "Have you finished El's paintings yet?"

"Three of them. June said that they wouldn't be opening the store until next month. I wouldn't wait until the last minute for El. Why?"

"A nearby counselor has a runaway and a parent at a good place –emotionally- to meet and was hoping to use the tea house. He believes that even if it's mid-construction, he can work out a resolution. He just needs a neutral ground. Half of the dining room is completed. El was thinking about putting up the art and then taking it down again after the meeting."

"Sure," Neal said agreeably. "She can have the completed works." He wondered how 'nearby' the counselor lived and how the man had known about the tea house's ulterior purpose. How had El and June advertised it? Or was it a counselor they had consulted with?